Tips for Planning a Bang Up Youth Retreat Part 1
Have you found your self in a conundrum where you are responsible for planning a youth retreat? Maybe you are the youth pastor, a volunteer or just a really involved parent. Either way you probably have lots of things to do and planning a retreat may be a terrifying task! Well, let me ease your mind just a bit. Out here at Shepherd’s Fold Ranch we have been hosting Fantastic Christian Camps and supporting churches with Youth Retreats for over 40 years, so we have learned a thing or two. I want to break down the retreat into a few modules and we will go over each module a little bit to give a simple list on what to plan for. After reading this article you should have a good idea of what you need to do to plan a Bang Up Youth Retreat.
Find A Good Time/Location
When planning your retreat it is best to find a good time in the calendar when you will have adequate time for your retreat. It is best to coincide with school, church and sports schedules to make sure you have a good turnout. If you have questions, form a small parent committee and run a couple of dates by them to confirm the best time. Along with that consider the location of your retreat. If you plan on going somewhere outside of a 1.5 hour drive you will exclude any students that may have to come early or leave late. Do a google search for, “youth retreat locations” or “Christian summer camps” and then find what places on the map are with in a 90 minute radius.
After narrowing down your list to Retreat Centers within a close radius it is best to start farming information to find out which location will be best for your event. You should have an idea of what you need before you call the Retreat Locations to streamline your communication with the camps. Questions you should ask yourself: “How many people will be coming?” “How will the students be supervised?” (How many adults will you have that can be leaders, assistants etc.) “Will you have any outside guests? (speakers, bands, etc)” “Do you want plan the food yourself or want t the retreat place to provide that?” “Do you want a place with activities like a high ropes course, zip line, horses, etc?” Usually these cost extra, so consider what you are wanting to do and the cost for the total amount. Also, ask yourself, “Is there a dollar amount we need to keep this retreat within?” You may be hoping to cover the cost for the retreat within the church budget or most likely you will be passing on the costs to the students and will have some form of scholarship fund available for those financially unable to attend. There are other questions you can ask yourself to plan well, but it would be best to start the conversation with a retreat center as some of these things might get answered in discussion.
Questions you should ask the Retreat Center: What is your reservation policy? This is important to know what deposit amount you are expected to pay as well as how all the planning will go. Also ask, “What is your cancellation policy?” You will want to know if something unexpected comes up. Most camps will have generally the same Rental Policies, but it is best to be in the know. Another important question is the number of beds and bathrooms per cabin. As many different camps there are, there are that many different types of cabin floor plans. If you are able to, it is best to go take a tour of the property to get your eyeballs on the facilities. You will want to know cabin layout for planning adult leaders and student/leader boarding. Check with your legal department to ensure the facilities meet your standards. Food and meal service. This is a big one and one you want to ensure you have planned well. After deciding what you need for food service find out the costs and menu planned for your retreat. It is also important to consider any dietary considerations for your students. Two of the main options retreat locations will offer is full meal service ( you pay a fee and they plan, cook and serve all meals) or rental options (you rent the kitchen and do everything yourself.) With the second option you need to make sure you know everything that is included in the Kitchen Rental. Some places require you to bring your own paper goods, cleaning supplies and trash bags. Others, like Shepherd’s Fold, provide that for. Just make sure you know what you are signing up for so that when you are cooking dinner you don’t get stuck without napkins :).
Read more about the Tips to Planning a Bangup Youth Retreat Part 2 here!